Ask WWGOA: Purchasing a Lathe Chuck

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I have an inexpensive harbor freight lathe. I would like to purchase a lathe chuck to hold blanks to turn stuff. Don’t know how to go about doing that. Can you help?

Submitted by TommyG


You’ll need to look at your owner’s manual to get some information about your lathe. Specifically, you’re looking for the diameter and thread count of the spindle on the headstock. A few common sizes are 3/4″. x 16 tpi (threads per inch), 1″ x 8 tpi, or 1-1/4″ x 8 tpi.

Once you know the correct size of your spindle, you can shop for a lathe chuck. The best way to buy a lathe chuck is to get one with a body and threaded insert that are two separate pieces.The threaded insert needs to be the correct size for your machine. If you ever change lathes, you can simply remove the insert and buy a new one (if your new lathe doesn’t have the same size spindle) instead of replacing the entire lathe chuck.

You’ll find chucks at places like Craft Supplies ( Rockler ( and Woodcraft (


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4 Responses to “Ask WWGOA: Purchasing a Lathe Chuck”

  1. Ben Johnson

    George, you only covered how to get the right size adapter to fit a lathe. I think many beginning turners would appreciate some comments about lever action for single key, jaw sizes (fitting to type of turning being done), jaw types (dovetail, serrated, flat, pin, etc.), or at the very least refer them to a good article somewhere, possibly something the AAW has available. Speaking of AAW, it would always be good to send learning turners to the AAW. They now have online magazines specifically aimed at the beginning turner as well as being able to refer them to their local woodturning club for mentoring.

  2. Christopher Phillips

    Great advice, you are very knowledgeable.

  3. Al

    How o build a lathe

  4. Robert Imamura

    What chucks will fit a Harbor Freight 12X33 3/8 lathe?